BCP Council considers new approach to Local Plan housing numbers

BCP Council will soon be releasing its Local Plan Issues and Options document for public consultation, which presents the background issues for public input prior to the creation of the full Local Plan next year.

A critical matter for the plan to address is the ongoing challenge to accommodate significant numbers of new homes necessary to meet the housing need proposed by the government, which currently identifies a need to accommodate around 2700 homes per year. BCP Council is working on developing an alternative approach to elements of the government’s standard housing need method so we can plan for the homes actually required and deliverable. Initial work by the council is indicating a significant reduction in the numbers of homes required.

Cllr Philip Broadhead, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Strategic Planning, explains:

"We have ambitious plans for housing growth across the BCP area, in particular by continuing to make the best use of brownfield sites. However, we have long-standing concerns with some parts of the government’s method to calculate housing needs, especially whether it represents the true picture of our population growth.

“Government have been very clear that we must use the standard method for calculating housing need that relies on household projections from 2014, and we continue to use this as the basis for our work. However, we needed to make sure that the figures within that method were robust. Therefore, prior to releasing the local plan for consultation, and as agreed by Cabinet, we have been working on looking in detail at those figures to ensure they truly represent our housing need. This new method could see a reduction in the number of homes we have to plan for, which could have significant positive benefits on our efforts in both placemaking and protecting our precious greenbelt. Although such an approach would be subject to more rigorous scrutiny when the plan reaches the public examination stage, we feel that it is right to consult on both of these figures to ensure we have an accurate and deliverable figure for the Local Plan.”

The Overview and Scrutiny Local Plan Working Group is being reconvened to discuss this alternative approach to housing need and how this can be addressed in the Local Plan. Once agreed, the council is aiming to consult on the Issues and Options document from late-October and following consideration of comments made, the Local Plan will be redrafted to form the local plan submission draft that will be subject to further public consultation next year.

Councillor Philip Broadhead, added:

“It is vital that we use this opportunity to really hear the voices of our communities. Agreeing a Local Plan for our area is an important step forward in helping us plan for our future generations. Understanding our true housing need is an essential part of the process. BCP Council’s Big Plan clearly sets out our commitment to act at scale and deliver new homes for people of all incomes, whilst also investing in infrastructure, but we have to make sure this is done in a way which protects and enhances our natural environment too. We now feel we are well on the way to delivering this balance.”

BCP Council’s Issues and Options Consultation will begin later this month. For more information visit www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/LocalPlan

Posted on Tuesday 5 October 2021